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EYE ON EDUCATION: Lake Placid students write grants to help their schools

December 8, 2017
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Nora Galvin is a quiet fifth grader who wears cat ears to the Lake Placid Elementary School. Over a two-year period, she has raised $400 for the North Country Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by running a lemonade stand.

Galvin is an animal lover and volunteers at the SPCA, a no-kill shelter between Elizabethtown and Westport. She plays with the cats and takes the dogs out for walks. One of her favorites is Hazy, a gray cat that kind of looks like a tiger.

Galvin recently transitioned her love of helping animals to helping her fellow classmates at the LPES; however, she's not the only student improving her community.

Article Photos

In front from left, Lake Placid Elementary School students Sophie Spanberg, Brooke Meyer, Teegan Wardlaw, Charlie Wilson, Jordan Deforest and Gabe Sawyer worked with school Counselor DeAnna Brown, back left, and reading and writing teacher Greg Fisher, back right, to secure grant funding for new informative signage on the school grounds. They raised $1000.
(News photo — Griffin Kelly)

Multiple groups of fourth- and fifth-grade students submitted grants to the Educational Opportunity Fund for the Lake Placid Central School District to raise money for various projects at the school.

Teresa Brady works with the fund and said these grants help provide things for students and teachers that just aren't in the school budget, whether that means supplies, updated facilities or field trips where those who attended can take back what they've learned to other students. She described the fund as a great way for the community to invest in its children's education.

The grants are one-page forms asking what students would like, how much it would cost and why it should be funded. Brady said it's similar to any other grant-writing process only more condensed and user friendly.

For the past two years, the fund has been working with teachers to help provide supplies and experiences to students.

Last year, school Counselor DeAnna Brown wrote a grant for snowshoes so students could use them on the nature trail on the perimeter of the school grounds. The fifth graders received a grant that funded their trip to the Experience Outdoors zip lining and high ropes course on Cascade Road. The fund also raises money for the "Backpack Program," which provides food to less fortunate students who might not have the option of bringing their own lunch to school.

This is the first year the grant-writing process was open for students to propose projects. Brady said the projects will keep students engaged in the community and help fund creativity.

In the grant-writing process, Brady said the students "set up what they're asking for and how it will help the school immediately and in years to come."


Star Boxes

Galvin submitted a grant for her "Star Boxes" - packages full of clothes, food and school supplies for less-fortunate students in need of certain provisions, which was an idea she had even before she was informed about the grants.

"One day, I just found a box and started putting it together with things I thought kids would need," Galvin said, "and it came out as what I like to call a Star Box."

The fourth- and fifth-grade students take classes in leadership skills as well as their academics. Brown said 43 percent of students are on the free or reduced lunch system, so the Star Boxes will alleviate some of that struggle.

"In our school," Brown said, "we talk a lot about empathy and what it's like to be in someone else's shoes. Some kids and families don't have enough food. That's a reality. We're helping kids be compassionate and kind toward each other no matter what."

Galvin raised $375 for the star boxes. She said she's hoping to decorate the boxes with star-patterned wrapping paper and hand them out at Christmas time.


Alternative seating

Two fifth graders, Trey Frantz and Brady's son, Brian, wrote a grant requesting money for alternative seating in classrooms.

In most schools, students sit on some type of metal or wooden chair with a slightly curved back. They can get uncomfortable on the spine after a few hours.

With the help of the school's occupational therapist, Beth Tremblay, Frantz and Brian Brady raised $565 for alternative seating such as Hokki Stools and stability ball seats.

Hokki Stools are these slightly rounded stools that have a funnel-like base, and the seat looks like a bottle cap. There's no back, so it allows the user to sit up straight and also gently rock back and forth or in circles.

The stability ball seats are a mix between an exercise ball and a chair. They can improve posture as well as core strength. They also have wheels in case students need to move around.

"It's going to be good because there's one kid in our class every time he raises his hand, he pushes his seat back and the chair goes 'SKEERT,'" Frantz said.

Both alternative seating options provide a little mobility in the classroom and keep students from getting bored. Frantz and Brian Brady said they're great for staying focused especially during stressful classes and exams.

"There's really long times where you'll have to sit in the class room writing essays for state tests," Brian Brady said.

They were able to order 12 new chairs in all.

"It was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be," Frantz said about the grant-submission process. Brian Brady added that it took some commitment and hard work, but overall it wasn't a stressful experience.



Tommy Sheehan of the fourth grade wrote a grant for Thera-Putty, a silicon material that develops and strengthens hand muscles. The substance is used by students who have completed all their work and need to bide time in a productive and interesting manner.

A 5-pound tub of the playful goo runs about $58. Sheehan raised $408.40.

"Whenever I go to Mrs. Tremblay's room," Sheehan said, "she always has Thera-Putty with a bead in it, and you have to find the bead."

Tremblay said Sheehan wanted to help students improve their hand strength for writing and that "He was able to get Thera-Putty not only for all three classes in the fourth grade but for the 'Project Playroom' as well."

Brown described the Project Playroom as a collection of early intervention programs that help students develop their social and emotional skills.


New sports equipment

Jacob Planty and Christian Maddough wrote a grant for new and better sports equipment. They raised $383.37 through the grant for a pickleball set and soccer balls.

"Everything is, like, really old," Planty said. "All the balls are ripped and really soft, and they need more air in them."

Maddough said the new equipment is a good addition to the school because kids will have more stuff to play with and won't be as bored.



Jordan Deforest, Gabe Sawyer, Brooke Meyer, Teegan Wardlaw, Sophie Spanberg and Charlie Wilson represented the fourth grade and raised $1,000 for signage on the campus grounds with the help of their reading and writing teacher, Greg Fisher.

The signage will be placed in areas such as the sports fields, the nature trail and the chicken coop. The signs will be weather-resistant and similar to the ones found in museums and at recognized landmarks.

The ones on the field will describe and list the rules of popular games the students play at recess, and the signs on the trail and at the coop will highlight interesting facts about nature and wildlife.

"It's nice for people to learn even when they're outside," Meyer said, "It's not just to go outside and play around. It's educational."

Wardlaw said the signs will definitely be good for the sports fields because if kids aren't following the rules of a certain game, the signs will prove what is the right way to play.

The next step is to have students design the signs and transfer their ideas onto the computer screen.

Fisher said the signs are a great project because students now and in the future will benefit from them.

"Even when these guys move on from fourth grade, it'll still be here for other kids to use," Fisher said.

The Lake Placid Middle/High School also received grants to send two students through a foreign exchange program to Quebec.

"The students will come back and share their language and culture experiences with other students. They hope to also spread the idea of the exchange program here in our community with local families hosting foreign students," Teresa Brady wrote in an email.

In total, students from grades 4 through 12 raised $4,900 for their school projects.



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